The new mid-half drink should be beneficial for Premier League managers. It’s another option to give instructions, give compliments or wake up in time for a player who is not in the game.
But these benefits are negated if you have already achieved two goals by the time your players trudge in for their liquid refreshment from individually labeled bottles.
That was the situation in which Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers found himself in Goodison Park on Wednesday night.
Brendan Rodgers does not hold back during the break of the first half of the drink in their defeat at Everton
The Leicester manager heard ‘enough is enough’ with his players two goals behind
Early goals from Everton’s Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson – the second the result of a controversial VAR punishment decision – resulted in Rodgers targeting his players with a growling expression and a stinging finger.
In the empty and echoing stadium, he heard his players say “enough is enough” as they sipped their Lucozade bottles cautiously.
Enough was enough. Leicester improved but eventually lost 2-1 and further questions are being asked to Rodgers as not only Chelsea but Manchester United and Wolves are ready to ditch them from the Champions League places.
The Foxes have only spent one weekend outside of the top four since August 24, but after a terrible return of just 13 points out of a possible 36 since the turn of the year, they are panic stations.
Rodgers said his team needed a ‘mental reset’, but it should have happened during their forced three months off.
But despite the rally in Leicester, the damage was done because they lost 2-1 in Goodison Park
It was another performance to get Rodgers scratching his head as their slump continued
They have come back and seemed like a vague imitation of themselves, drawing against the modest Watford and Brighton, losing to Chelsea in the FA Cup and then Everton. They are at home at Crystal Palace on Saturday, a match that has quickly become a must-win.
Gary Lineker wrote it humorously and current on Twitter: ‘There are no things happening for @LCFC that, like the city, will remain locked. Time to grow a few and make things happen, otherwise a wonderful season will be lost. ‘
Leicester fans, meanwhile, began to question Rodgers’ tactics, something that would have been unthinkable during that eight-game winning game before Christmas.
Many asked why James Maddison was stationed on the left instead of his usual central role when deployed to the terrible Dennis Praet at half-time.
It came after Maddison played in a similar position and was ineffective in last week’s goalless draw with Brighton.
The result left Leicester in serious danger of losing their place in the Champions League as Chelsea, Manchester United and Wolves caught up
Gary Lineker humorously compared Leicester’s ongoing Covid-19 lockdown
Leicester fans have started asking questions about Rodgers’ tactics in recent weeks – it came home to Brighton after last week’s goalless draw
Maddison has been played on the left instead of his usual central positions in recent games
This criticism followed Everton’s loss to players who had to work in unknown positions
Ayoze Perez needs to think about another detrimental outcome to Leicester’s European ambitions
Wilfred Ndidi has been unable to bear his usual influence on Leicester’s midfield after the restart
Leicester’s bad run
Leicester won 3-0 in Newcastle on New Year’s Day, but their form of competition has suffered ever since.
January 11th Southampton (H) 1-2
January 19th Burnley (A) 1-2
January 22 West Ham (H) 4-1
February 1 Chelsea (H) 2-2
February 14th Wolves (A) 0-0
February 22 Man City (H) 0-1
February 28 Norwich (A) 0-1
9th of March Aston Villa (H) 4-0
June 20 Watford (A) 1-1
June 23 Brighton (H) 0-0
July 1st Everton (A) 1-2
In the same game, Rodgers’ decision to play Wilfred Ndidi and Nampalys Mendy together in the defensive midfield against relegation of the opposition also raised eyebrows.
But, frankly, Rodgers, his introduction of Maddison and Kelechi Iheanacho at half time at Goodison gave Leicester at least a much needed boost. Iheanacho scored six minutes in the second half, but the damage was already done.
The obvious comparison to the Leicester collapse in form is that of Rodgers’ Liverpool side in pursuit of the Premier League title in 2014.
But that came much later in the season, to the point of maximum pressure, and after an 11-game winning streak, it was almost certain that Liverpool would win the title.
Steven Gerrard’s slip in Chelsea’s 2-0 home loss followed by Crystanbul – in which Liverpool surrendered a three-goal lead over Selhurst Park – saw the title fall through their fingers.
These setbacks were also combined with a relentless Manchester City who held matches and won their last five after being defeated at Anfield in mid-April.
Leicester’s decline in watching nailed Champions League qualifying matches – and arguably the only team equipped to challenge Liverpool for the title – at Christmas is redder and disturbing.
They looked bland and deprived of ideas since the restart, the free-flowing confidence of autumn had long since subsided.
Maybe Leicester got too comfortable. It can happen if you know the team above, you can’t get caught, but you also have a pillow for those outside of the top four.
On New Year’s Day, when Leicester Newcastle rolled 3-0, that gap was 14 points. Likewise, Liverpool was 10 points ahead of them with two games in hand. Did complacency come in?
Leicester celebrates while Hamza Choudhury (second from the left) puts them 3-0 against Newcastle
Jamie Vardy scored a hat-trick when Leicester defeated Southampton 9-0 in October
The run-up to Leicester
July 4 Crystal Palace (H)
July 7 Arsenal (A)
July 12th Bournemouth (A)
July 15 Sheffield United (H)
July 18 Tottenham (A)
July 26 Man United (H)
Data can change
One of those gaps has widened, the other has narrowed and alarming. As it stands, Leicester is in the Europa League next season, the stinkiest consolation prizes.
The high intensity, in-your-face style that had bothered Leicester, even the best sides, has disappeared, as seen after the Christmas losses to Southampton, Burnley and Norwich. Not to mention Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup semifinal, arguably the most disappointing of them all.
The intrepid approach to their travels, with Leicester winning six out of seven away games in the fall, has disappeared, leading to five without a win from King Power Stadium.
Leading striker Jamie Vardy scored in eight consecutive games during that brilliant start to the season and 16 in his first 16 games. But his goals have dried up, with only three since December 8.
He remains the leader in the race for the Premier League Golden Boot with 19 goals, but has been brought in by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The goals have dried up for striker Jamie Vardy, who excelled before Christmas
James Maddison’s creative touch has also been missing since the Premier League’s resumption
Likewise, the creativity of Maddison, who has not given any assist since the same date and only scored once. He was linked with a summer move to Manchester United – but no longer.
Rodgers was candid after losing Wednesday night and said, “If we end up outside [the Champions League places]we wouldn’t have been good enough. ‘
That prospect was not even a topic of conversation before the restart. The good news for Leicester is that their fate in the Champions League remains in their own hands, but Rodgers must collect them quickly.
The next three games – at home at Crystal Palace on Saturday followed by trips to Arsenal and Bournemouth – now all fall into the must-win category. That’s because after that, heavier matches come against Sheffield United, Tottenham and Man United.
As Lineker said, Leicester has to get out of the strange lock on the field they’re in before all their good work counts for nothing this season.